Corps seeks comments on Lock and Dam 7 mooring cell facilities

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published June 17, 2024
Expiration date: 7/17/2024

1. Project Proponent. St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E1500, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

2. Project Authority. On November 8, 2007, the United States Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2007, Title VIII - Upper Mississippi and Illinois Waterway System, Section 8003 – Authorization of Construction of Navigation Improvements, which authorized the first increment of navigation improvements in accordance with Chief of Engineers Report, dated 15 December 2004. This authorization is more commonly referred to as the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), which is a unique dual-purpose authorization for both navigation efficiency improvements and ecosystem restoration.

3. Project Location. The proposed project is upstream of Lock 7 of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR), adjacent to Dresbach, MN.

4. Summary of the Proposed Project. The purpose of the Project is to construct mooring facilities, including a mooring cell and mooring dolphin, on the UMR at Lock 7 for tows to tie off to while awaiting passage through the downstream lock. Under present conditions, towboats must move in close to shore and ground their barges and/or maintain engine power in the river to hold position. With a mooring facility at the proposed location, towboats could tie off to the structures and improve navigation locking efficiency and safety, while reducing environmental disturbance to the bankline, or sediment re-suspension associated with barge engines idling to hold position.

5. Construction Schedule. Construction would most likely occur in 2025.

6. Permits/Coordination.
a. General. The Proposed Project has been coordinated with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, as well as other agencies. The DNR had no major concerns regarding the proposed action, but provided comments for consideration during review.
b. State. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is the administering agency for Section 401 water quality certification in the State of MN. Minnesota has issued water quality certifications for Nationwide Permit (NWP) 25. No additional permits would be required.
c. Federal. A Draft Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact was prepared and coordinated in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service occurred during the planning and design process. NWP 25 – Structural Discharges, which includes structures “…for general navigation, such as mooring cells.” will be used to comply with the Clean Water Act of 1977.

7. Summary of Environmental Impacts. The Proposed Project would have temporary minor adverse impacts to noise, air, water quality, fish and wildlife, navigation and social resources. Affected resources would be expected to recover quickly from any adverse effects shortly after conclusion of the project. The project would not affect any federally listed species. The Project would have No Adverse Effect to Historic Properties. USACE coordinated this determination that the proposed project would have No Adverse Effect on Historic Properties on 13 June 2024, and is awaiting a reply. Overall, the project would have a long-term beneficial effect to river navigation and river environmental resources that are disturbed by the current actions of mooring.

8. Report. A Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment that describes the project and the environmental impacts in detail is available to the public and can be viewed at https://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Home/Public-Notices/. The assessment includes an evaluation of impacts, project drawings, a Draft Finding of No Significant Impact, and letters of coordination from regulatory agencies.

9. Review and Comment. If you have any comments on the environmental assessment, they should be provided before the expiration date of this notice. Persons submitting comments are advised that all comments received will be available for public review, to include the possibility of posting on a public website.Questions on the project or comments on the Environmental Assessment can be directed to Elliott Stefanik at Elliott.L.Stefanik@usace.army.mil Please address all formal written correspondence on this project to District Engineer, St. Paul District, Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Regional Planning and Environment Division North, 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E1500, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

Appendix A is available upon request. Please contact Elliott.L.Stefanik@usace.army.mil to obtain. See the SEA and appendices below.